Weekly Obsession: Flip-flop-flipped

Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 9:05pm

He was for it before he was against it. Then he was against it when he should have been for it.

Metro Councilman Buddy Baker, who represents The Nations neighborhood, finally signed onto a resolution approving a “waste transfer facility” — a recycling plant — to be located near the old Ford Glass Plant on Centennial Boulevard. 

Then Mary Carolyn Roberts, Baker’s opponent in the upcoming election, said it was “another backdoor deal” by the incumbent. Perhaps feeling the heat, Baker decided not to back the plant, emphasizing that just because he signed onto the resolution didn’t mean he supported it.

Unfortunately for Baker, the council’s attorney said he couldn’t simply withdraw the resolution, because it would become law after 60 days without council action. 

This doesn’t make much sense: A permit could be approved if it’s either A) approved or B) not acted on? Thus are the byzantine ways of zoning and usage laws.

Baker was in a quandary, and the only way to deny the permit was for the council to take a vote. So at the July 19 council meeting, Baker made a motion to disapprove — basically urging the council to vote yes to make something not happen that Baker had originally asked to happen, because if they didn’t vote that way, it would happen anyway. 

Robert’s Rules of Order, that stodgy old volume used throughout the English-speaking world to run every kind of meeting from a quaint country bridge club to the gold-filigreed board of directors at a Fortune 500 company, is not keen on motions in the negative. 

“It is preferable to avoid a motion containing a negative statement even in cases where it would have a meaning, since members may become confused as to the effect of voting for or against such a motion,” the Rules read. 

Exactly. The correct procedural play would have been to move for approval and then urge a no vote. After all, what would have happened if the motion to disapprove failed? Would the permit have been granted? Would this have counted as “council action”?

While pondering that existential dilemma, there’s a more important question: If not on Centennial Boulevard — already a well-developed industrial area — where?

Waste Services of Tennessee clearly sees a need for the plant, but no one seems to want it around. Unfortunately for Baker, Robert’s Rules are silent on solutions for NIMBYism — and for avoiding campaign missteps. 

4 Comments on this post:

By: haveasay on 7/25/11 at 10:34

Thank you for stating the obvious fact, Centennial Boulevard "already a well-developed industrial area" Why does
Ms Roberts think that it is a residential neighborhood, maybe because Belle Meade, where she came from to help Evans and Holleman, had no industrial area so she moved to Michigan Ave. to be nearer industrial. Good move.

By: jhr1925 on 7/25/11 at 11:19

haveasay, I'm not sure you have done your homework. Ms Roberts isn't from Belle Meade nor has she ever lived in Belle Meade. This is just more of the ongoing lies perpetually told by the Buddy camp in a desperate attempt to discredit her.
Why don't you concentrate on the real issue here, Why didn't Buddy ever present this to his neighborhood? Why did they have to catch him before he told them about it? Why does Buddy let everyone else do his bidding for him? Is he unable to hold a community meeting? That's not the responsibility of the lobbyist to present it to the neighborhood............ It's the responsibility of the councilperson.
You obviously have no idea what her relationship is or was with either CM Evans or Holleman. You rhetoric is based solely in misinformation.

By: Wallace on 7/25/11 at 11:44

jhr is correct is the accessment of what happened in this situation, and what has happened in the nearly 4 yrs that our councilman has been in office. We had to set up our own neighborhood meetings and tell people about Maytown, with bridges coming thru our neighborhood and taking 40 homes. He certainly didn't tell us about it, we heard it on TV after he had already met with developer in a meeting. We found out about the Waste Tranfer Facility on the Council agenda the week before the meeting, not from our councilman, and the facility asked for a permit on June 10th, and put on Council agenda on June 12th, and neighborhoods didn't find out about this until mid July agenda came out from Council. This is just two of many, many incidents that we have dealt with after asking our councilman to tell us about things coming up, and he has refused to tell neighborhoods what is going on. Ms. Roberts hasn't lived in Belle Meade, and it wouldn't matter if any other newer neighbor decided to run, what would they say about them, that they can't run, if they haven't lived in West Nashville for 50 yrs, but the newer resident see changes need to be made? That's what the election process is all about and we want and need change in District 20, and Ms. Mary Carolyn Roberts will be providing help and giving information to all neighborhoods not just a few friends.

By: T-BONE on 7/25/11 at 12:11

Put it right smack dab in the middle of BELLE MEADE! Their SH#T stinks also!